Michael Hudson has written an essay explaining the historic and present relationships between banks and democratic governments. Today, he says, the banks are controlling the governments in Europe and the United States. The banks use their vast reserves of money both inside the government and outside it to control through lobbying and by gaining positions of power within the government.
Goldman Sachs is the epitome of the powerful and manipulative hold that banks have on the government. We have described at length in this blog Goldman's rise to power and its attainment of power.
Please read Michael Hudson's work and especially note what measures he thinks will turn things around. (In the original, some words were telescoped together and I have corrected them. The article has many of these words.)
Banks Weren't Meant to Be Like This. What Will their Future Be - and What is the Government's Proper Financial Role?
by Michael Hudson - New Economic Perspectives and FAZ
The inherently symbiotic relationship between banks and governments recently has been reversed. In medieval times, wealthy bankers lent to kings and princes as their major customers. But now it is the banks that are needy, relying on governments for funding – capped by the post-2008 bailouts to save them from going bankrupt from their bad private-sector loans and gambles.
Yet the banks now browbeat governments – not by having ready cash but by threatening to go bust and drag the economy down with them if they are not given control of public tax policy, spending and planning. The process has gone furthest in the United States. Joseph Stiglitz characterizes the Obama administration’s vast transfer of money and pubic debt to the banks as a “privatizing of gains and the socializing of losses. It is a ‘partnership’ in which one partner robs the other.”Prof. Bill Black describes banks as becoming criminogenic and innovating“control fraud.”High finance has corrupted regulatory agencies, falsified account-keeping by“mark to model” trickery, and financed the campaigns of its supporters to disable public oversight. The effect is to leave banks in control of how the economy’s allocates its credit and resources.
If there is any silver lining to today’s debt crisis, it is that the present situation and trends cannot continue. So this is not only an opportunity to restructure banking; we have little choice. The urgent issue is who will control the economy: governments,or the financial sector and monopolies with which it has made an alliance.
Fortunately, it is not necessary tore-invent the wheel. Already a century ago the outlines of a productive industrial banking system were well understood. But recent bank lobbying has been remarkably successful in distracting attention away from classic analyses of how to shape the financial and tax system to best promote economic growth – by public checks on bank privileges.
How banks broke the social compact,promoting their own special interestsPeople used to know what banks did.Bankers took deposits and lent them out, paying short-term depositors less than they charged for risky or less liquid loans. The risk was borne by bankers, not depositors or the government. But today, bank loans are made increasingly to speculators in recklessly large amounts for quick in-and-out trading. Financial crashes have become deeper and affect a wider swath of the population as debt pyramiding has soared and credit quality plunged into the toxic category of“liars’ loans.”The first step toward today’s mutual interdependence between high finance and government was for central banks to act as lenders of last resort to mitigate the liquidity crises that periodically resulted from the banks’ privilege of credit creation. In due course governments also provided public deposit insurance, recognizing the need to mobilize and recycle savings into capital investment as the Industrial Revolution gained momentum. In exchange for this support, they regulated banks as public utilities.Over time, banks have sought to disable this regulatory oversight, even to the point of decriminalizing fraud.Sponsoring an ideological attack on government, they accuse public bureaucracies of “distorting” free markets (by which they mean markets free for predatory behavior). The financial sector is now making its move to concentrate planning in its own hands.The problem is that the financial time frame is notoriously short-term and often self-destructive. And inasmuch as the banking system’s product is debt, its business plan tends to be extractive and predatory, leaving economies high-cost. This is why checks and balances are needed, along with regulatory oversight to ensure fair dealing.Dismantling public attempts to steer banking to promote economic growth (rather than merely to make bankers rich) has permitted banks to turn into something nobody anticipated. Their major customers are other financial institutions,insurance and real estate – the FIRE sector, not industrial firms. Debt leveraging by real estate and monopolies, arbitrage speculators, hedge funds and corporate raiders inflates asset prices on credit. The effect of creating“balance sheet wealth” in this way is to load down the “real”production-and-consumption economy with debt and related rentier charges, adding more to the cost of living and doing business than rising productivity reduces production costs.Since 2008, public bailouts have taken bad loans off the banks’ balance sheet at enormous taxpayer expense –some $13 trillion in the United States, and proportionally higher in Ireland and other economies now being subjected to austerity to pay for “free market” deregulation.Bankers are holding economies hostage, threatening a monetary crash if they do not get more bailouts and nearly free central bank credit, and more mortgage and other loan guarantees for their casino-like game. The resulting “too big to fail” policy means making governments too weak to fight back.The process that began with central bank support thus has turned into broad government guarantees against bank insolvency. The largest banks have made so many reckless loans that they have become wards of the state. Yet they have become powerful enough to capture lawmakers to act as their facilitators. The popular media and even academic economic theorists have been mobilized to pose as experts in an attempt to convince the public that financial policy is best left to technocrats – of the banks’ own choosing, as if there is no alternative policy but for governments to subsidize a financial free lunch and crown bankers as society’s rulers.The Bubble Economy and its austerity aftermath could not have occurred without the banking sector’s success in weakening public regulation, capturing national treasuries and even disabling law enforcement. Must governments surrender to this power grab? If not, who should bear the losses run up by a financial system that has become dysfunctional? If taxpayers have to pay, their economy will become high-cost and uncompetitive – and a financial oligarchy will rule.
Continue reading the article here